CUTTACK: The controversy over selection of Odia novel ‘Achinha Basabhumi’ by Kalpana Kumari Devi for the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi award has taken a new turn with the Orissa High Court on Thursday issuing a stay on the presentation of the award. Acting on a PIL challenging the selection of the book in the Odia literature category, the division bench of Chief Justice V Gopalagowda and Justice BN Mohapatra has issued notice to the Central Government and Kendriya Sahitya Akademi authorities while staying the presentation of the award till the next date of hearing.
The PIL petition has been filed by novelist Sricharan Pratap alias Kaniska of Cuttack. According to petitioner, the jury members during their selection have given a go-by to the established rules and norms. As per rules, the award should be presented for the most outstanding book by an Indian author, first published in any of the languages recognised by the Akademi during the three years prior to the year of award. It was further stated that the book which is to be included must be an outstanding contribution to the language and literature. Thus the book must have been written during the period 2007 to 2009 to have been qualified for the award for 2011.
The petitioner alleged that the author of the selected book in an interview to a monthly magazine “Jugashree Juganari” in February 2010 stated that she had given up writing for the last 20 years due to family burden. But she was now venturing on a novel. Relying upon such interview statement, the petitioner stated before the court that the author has herself stated that she had not written a book during the eligible period between 2007 and 2009.
The book was not written before 2010 as she has herself given away in the interview. He further alleged that the jury members were hand in glove with the publisher who had resorted to manipulations and machinations to include the book in the shortlist. Intriguingly, Achinha Basabhumi did not feature in the ground list and was suddenly inserted in the short list, he submitted.
Indicating other aspects of the matter, the petitioner has appealed to the court to quash the selection and nomination of the book and consequently the award which is to be presented on February 14.